Once again, Fear the Walking Dead provides some very interesting commentary on contemporary socio-political issues involving state authority and the rights of the individual. At the same time, though, it’s pushing our main characters into making moral choices that are more suited for later in the zombie apocalypse when society has totally broken down. It’s a little too early for my tastes to make some of the choices Madison (Kim Dickens) and Daniel (Rubén Blades) make this week. And if you turn the TV off about five minutes before the end, it would be one of the darkest turns in this series or the original. The final five minutes, however, give our characters an out, but it’s an out that undermines a lot of the political subtext of the series to date while also throwing support to some very questionable moral stances in the real world. But back to the beginning… In the medical camp, mysterious new character Strand (Colman Domingo) plays psychological games with poor old weepy loser, Doug Thompson (John Stewart), pushing him into a breakdown that allows security to pull him from the cell and take him away. What Strand’s motives are, we don’t know, but he’s got enough pull with the guards to pay them off when he wants something. And now he wants Nick (Frank Dillane). Why? He needs someone with his “skills” when he makes “his move,” whatever that might be. It’s an interesting plot twist, but we’ll have to wait and see just what’s going on; and with just one more episode this season, we may not get a resolution for quite a while. It does, however, allow some insight into the world of the hospital, which is harsh — maybe too harsh — but again, aside from the skeezy guard taking bribes, there doesn’t seem to be any abuse and the doctors are making hard calls every few minutes. They know what’s going on and are desperately trying to keep the apocalypse in check. That’s unrelenting work and there’s no time for mercy or nostalgia. In what was one of my favorite scenes of the season, potential step-siblings Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) take some time to bond by sneaking into the home of some rich people who have fled into the apocalypse, trying on their fancy clothes, and then trashing their stuff. It’s childish but I loved it. I was kind of hoping they’d set the house on fire before they left. I may have some Class War Issues that need working out. The rest of the episode was devoted to two main narrative lines: Travis (Cliff Curtis) trying to get to the hospital in order to bring Nick and Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) back while Daniel and Maddie attempt to torture information out of Ofelia’s (Mercedes Mason) previously-potential love interest, Andrew (Shawn Hatosy). Although to be fair, Maddie only passively agrees that Andrew should be tortured, but that doesn’t really make it any better. And that’s what I was talking about earlier. Torturing a soldier for information is a Full-Blown-Apocalypse tactic. After society has fallen and survival desperation has set in, you might have to make that call, and while it would be horrible, it might be the right thing to do for the sake of the group. Right now, these people aren’t at that stage of desperation yet. Right now, this is the act of dangerously paranoid people who are not to be trusted. And that’s a daring character development that I could get behind. It would make them horrible people who might have to live with making the wrong life and death choice — and that would inform every choice they made in the future, once extreme measures are actually called for. It also allows the revelation that Daniel wasn’t actually fleeing persecution when he brought his family to America; he was a government torturer, and as such he feels that he knows what’s coming and has very few qualms about digging into Andrew with a straight razor. Again, if you turn off the TV before the final five minutes, you get an incredibly dark moment that casts Daniel, and Maddie by extension, in the bleakest of lights. If he’d gotten nothing out of Andrew, then it would have all been for nothing. If the National Guard are really trying to help, it would have been all for nothing. But then there’s that final five minutes. In a horrible turnaround, Andrew reveals what this episode’s title “Cobalt” means. Apparently the military is pulling out, and before they leave they have orders to humanely exterminate the residents of the town. I’m calling bullshit on that. In that moment, everything the series has been building toward with a sympathetic eye toward the work of the military and the police in dealing with events way beyond anyone’s control, and a critical eye toward a public that mistrusts authority in times of extreme need, is tossed out the window. The National Guard is now the bad guy. Torture is justified. And paranoia is truth. It’s generic and cliché. Especially when contrasted with the events in Travis’ storyline. In a telling confrontation with Lt. Moyers (Jamie McShane), Travis is able to push the soldier into taking him to the hospital against his better judgement. In the process, Moyers makes it plain what he’s dealing with: these aren’t highly trained Marines or Navy Seals. These soldiers safeguarding the community are practically kids themselves with families and friends who are missing and probably dead already. They’re champing at the bit to go AWOL and Moyers is barely holding them in check. He may be an obnoxious douchebag, but Lt. Moyers is dedicated to keeping both the citizens and his soldiers as safe as possible. But he can’t help pushing them. And when the squad taking Travis to the hospital stops to provide backup for another squad under attack, Moyers is killed off-screen and Travis is lucky that the survivors are willing to take him home before they scatter to the wind. These aren’t the acts of people who are going to massacre a town and fly off into the sunset and it that’s really what’s coming, and there’s no internal conflict on the military’s side, I’m going to be extremely disappointed. Fear the Walking Dead 1.05 “Cobalt”Paul's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.